1 What is an Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)?

An intensive radiation treatment that is given during surgery is called intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).

This is used to treat cancers which are difficult to remove during surgery and allows direct radiation to the target area while sparing normal surrounding tissue but oftentimes there are a microscopic amount of cancer which can still remain.

The most common type of IORT used is the intraoperative electron radiation therapy that is given during surgery. This treatment gives higher effective doses compare to the conventional radiation therapy.

Since sensitive organs could be nearby, it is not always possible to use very high doses of conventional radiation therapy. IORT shields nearby organs from radiation therapy and allows doctors to temporarily move them.

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2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to receive an intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).

Intraoperative radiation therapy can deliver a dose of radiation therapy during surgery. This might help reduce radiation treatment and kill the microscopic disease, also it can provide added radiation boost.

The advantages of this treatment include:

  • All of the needed radiation can be delivered at one time so this can save time.
  • The radiation dose in IORT is much smaller than the conventional radiation therapy.
  • Nearby normal tissues and organs receive less radiation from the IORT radiation.
  • Patients can receive a boost of radiation during IORT.

3 Potential Risks

The common risks of side effects of intraoperative radiation therapy in the treated area include:

  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Darkness
  • Irritation similar to sunburn

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for the intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), your doctor will give your instructions on what you should do.

Avoid eating solid foods after midnight before the day of the treatment. Two hours before the procedure, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and a nurse will place an intravenous (IV) catheter into a vein in your arm. You will receive fluids and maybe anesthesia in the IV.

Your doctor will attach equipment to you to monitor your breathing, heart and blood pressure; he will also give you oxygen through your nose. Once you are asleep, he will then make an incision to remove the tumor.

After the tumor is removed, the radiation oncologist will place the applicator – this has thin catheters that are connected to a machine that holds the radiation – in your incision.

Your doctor and other staff will leave the room once the applicator is positioned. This treatment can take up about 30 to 40 minutes. After the radiation, your doctor will remove the applicator and close your incision.

6 Procedure Results

Understanding the results of your intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) will be made possible by your doctor.

After the procedure, your doctor will still monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and temperature. You may be given antibiotics to help prevent infections.

You will still have follow-up visits with your radiation oncologist and surgeon.